After 11 months of straight growth, seasonally adjusted Australian retail sales overall fell by 3.9 per cent in December 2022, according to the latest report from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Within this report, the food retail channel (which includes liquor retail) was the only sector to record positive figures, achieving a modest rise of 0.3 per cent in the month while other retail categories were sent tumbling – particularly in those sectors boosted by the Black Friday sales. This was an improvement on November’s showing, when food and liquor retailing had recorded just 0.1 per cent growth.
When it came to other sectors in December 2022, department stores fell by 14.3 per cent, with clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing falling by 13.1 per cent. Previously, overall retail sales had enjoyed a 1.7 per cent rise in November 2022.
Ben Dorber, ABS Head of Retail Statistics, said that while these results show the impact of the rising cost of living and CPI, they also show positive overall calendar growth for the retail sector.
“This is the first monthly fall in retail turnover for 2022, following 11 consecutive monthly rises. Retail turnover remains elevated at its sixth highest level in the series and was up 7.5 per cent through the year,” Dorber said.
“The large fall in December suggests that retail spending is slowing due to high cost of living pressures. Retail businesses reported that many consumers had responded to these pressures by doing more Christmas shopping in November to take advantage of heavy promotional activity and discounting as part of the Black Friday sales event.”
The figures are seasonally adjusted, and in original terms, there was a strong rise in December, due to increased Christmas spending.
“Seasonal spending patterns continue to change and evolve around Black Friday and the holiday period,” Dorber said.
“This year’s rise in original terms was smaller than those typically seen in past December months. This has led to the large seasonally adjusted fall.”
The general fall in retail spending was felt across all states and territories in Australia, with most experiencing a decline of over three per cent. The most significant declines were in Victoria and Western Australia, which both fell by 4.7 per cent.